By Priam Nepomuceno
MANILA – The Philippines is looking at the possibility of increasing the number of its ships patrolling the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as part of efforts or options to prevent the swarming of Chinese vessels in the area, an official of the National Security Council (NSC) said Wednesday.
“That is one thing that the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) is considering right now. There are many options on the table. One option, of course, is to increase also our number of ships patrolling in the WPS, both gray ships and white ships,” NSC Assistant Director General and NTF-WPS spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said during an interview with CNN Philippines.
He gave this answer when asked on what the Philippines could do to deter or prevent the massing of Chinese ships, especially its maritime militia, in the WPS.
Malaya said the country is also looking at other options but declined to elaborate.
“There are a lot of options that are on the table, which I cannot disclose right now but we are also considering a change of strategy. But let me just state for the record that we will not stop fighting for what is ours and we will continue, of course, to supply our troops of needed supplies and provisions in Ayungin Shoal,” he said.
Malaya also expressed hope that China would reciprocate Philippine calls “to reduce tensions and allow the peaceful resupply mission” to prevent untoward incidents.
He noted that the “true colors” of China’s maritime militia have been revealed.
“They were usually used in swarming activities, some sort of effective occupation by their presence on the contested features of the WPS but now we see that, you know, their ‘true colors’ have been bared to the world, that they are not fishing vessels, they are, in fact, part of the structure of the Chinese Communist Party, of the Chinese government, they are instrument of Chinese power in the WPS,” Malaya said.
TikTok ban for gov’t security sector
Meanwhile, he said they are studying proposals on whether it would be prudent for government personnel in the security sector to be prohibited from using Tiktok.
“The problems with Tiktok arise from two things. Number one is the concerns over data surveillance or data collection, the other thing is on its social influence or the ability to manipulate audiences so what we’re contemplating now and what the National Security Council is studying is whether it would be prudent at this time to ban the use of the Tiktok app by government personnel in the security sector,” Malaya said.
This refers to personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, and other uniformed personnel, such as the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
Also included are personnel of civilian agencies involved in national security, such as the NSC and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.
Another issue with Tiktok is that the app is possibly under the control of the Chinese government, Malaya added.
“I wish to emphasize Tiktok by ByteDance, which is the Chinese technology owned entirely by China and under Chinese law, any Chinese company has to cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party for whatever reason. So given that we have security issues now with China, particularly over the WPS, we feel it would be prudent for the Philippine government to seriously study and consider the banning of this app and possibly other Chinese apps on the devices of security sector employees and personnel. We’re currently studying it, we’re considering it and hopefully we could come to a decision very soon,” he added. (PNA)